CNN  — 

Donald Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche began his confrontation with Michael Cohen on Tuesday by throwing the former fixer’s language back in his face.

Blanche confirmed the two had never spoken, but asked Cohen whether he knew who he was already, since Cohen “went on TikTok and called me a crying little sh*t” just before the trial began.

“Sounds like something I would say,” responded Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer.

The question set the tone for the cross-examination of the Manhattan district attorney’s key witness in the hush money trial against the former president. For roughly two hours, Blanche began a cross-examination to try to discredit Cohen’s allegations against Trump.

But after the initial fireworks over Cohen’s TikTok post, much of his cross-examination Tuesday was more subdued, as Blanche quizzed him on the many compliments he gave Trump when he was still a loyal fixer and the money he’s made from books and podcasts since turning against him. Cohen did not get rattled when his nasty statements were read back to him, and Trump hardly reacted to his lawyer’s interrogation.

Still, there’s a long way to go – Blanche indicated the cross-examination would continue through most of the day Thursday, when court resumes.

Over two days, Cohen has detailed the hush money scheme involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, walked the jury through the $130,000 he paid at Trump’s direction and described his fallout with the former president. Cohen’s testimony ties together the prosecution’s allegations that Trump broke the law by falsifying business records to reimburse Cohen and conceal the payment. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies having an affair with Daniels.

If Cohen gets off the stand Thursday, the prosecution appears poised to rest its case against Trump. Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass confirmed to Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday that Cohen is the final witness for the prosecution.

Here are the takeaways from Day 17 of the Trump hush money trial:

Blanche tries to use Cohen’s words to discredit him

Blanche’s opening question was just the first in a series of colorful quotes from Cohen that Blanche raised to jurors to try to paint Cohen as someone who hated Trump and who was hellbent on getting revenge while making money off the former president and trying to get his prison sentence reviewed.

Blanche had plenty of material to work with. Cohen has written two books, “Disloyal” and “Revenge,” and has recorded hundreds of podcasts – confirming he mentions Trump in every episode of “Mea Culpa.”

Regarding Cohen’s first podcast in 2020, Blanche asked whether he called Trump a “boorish cartoon misogynist.”

“Sounds like something I would say,” Cohen responded again.

Blanche then asked whether Cohen called Trump a “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain.”

“That also sounds like something that I said,” Cohen said.

Blanche fired more lines at Cohen, asking whether he said on his podcast in 2020: “I truly f***ing hope Donald Trump ends up in prison.”

“Sounds more like my language on ‘Mea Culpa,’” Cohen responded.

Blanche then asked Cohen to listen to audio from the podcast, which Cohen, the judge, the lawyers and Trump all put on headphones to hear.

Blanche continued by asking Cohen how much money he had made from his books, his podcasts and the TikTok account he launched six months ago.

The upshot of the questioning was that Cohen was making a living off attacking Trump after he lost his law license following his 2018 guilty plea to charges including campaign finance violations linked to the hush money scheme.

Cohen tried to put another spin on it. Asked what his goal was of putting out a TikTok nearly every night, he said: “Build an audience, to create a community, to really vent because I have a difficult time sleeping, so I found an outlet.”

The tug-of-war over Cohen’s words is sure to continue into Thursday as Blanche tries to convince the jury not to trust Cohen’s allegations related to the case itself.

todd pkg cohen tiktok digvid
Trump's defense calls out Michael Cohen's past TikToks
02:46 - Source: CNN

Blanche questions Cohen on his drastically shifting views about Trump

Blanche took Cohen through the evolution of the former fixer’s feelings about Trump, pinpointing the shift from admiration to hatred in the summer of 2018, when Cohen turned on his former boss.

Asked whether he was “obsessed” with Trump, Cohen said, “I wouldn’t say obsessed. I admired him tremendously.”

He went on, “I can’t recall using that word. I wouldn’t say it would be wrong.”

Cohen also used his admiration to try to explain his shift, responding to a series of questions about the nice things he had said about Trump by saying: “At that time I was knee-deep into the cult of Donald Trump, yes.”

Blanche read a list of compliments Cohen paid Trump publicly in 2015 and 2016, including calling Trump “a good man,” “a man who cares deeply about his family” and “a man who tells it straight.”

Throughout cross-examination Blanche asked Cohen pointed questions about when he was telling the truth or lying when it came to Trump.

“You were telling the truth, correct?” Blanche asked in regards to the compliments Cohen gave Trump.

“That’s how I felt,” Cohen said. “I was expressing my feelings, so yes, it would be the truth.”

Cohen confirmed his feelings about Trump changed in the summer of 2018 around the time he pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Trump’s attorney pushed Cohen on his motivations since turning on the former president, suggesting Cohen is now driven by revenge and money.

Blanche quoted an excerpt of Cohen’s book “Disloyal” to him: “I wanted it all: power, the good life, public acclaim, fame, big deals, fast cars, private planes, the excess and glamor and zest for life.”

“Those are my words, yes,” Cohen confirmed.

There were no fireworks from Trump or Cohen on Tuesday afternoon during the cross-examination.

Trump’s former fixer kept his measured manner for the more than two hours of questioning from Blanche. Trump, meanwhile, rarely engaged with Cohen’s testimony. He turned to Cohen initially when Blanche began but spent most of the time with his eyes closed, appearing to zone out, with his mouth hanging open at some points.

Occasionally, Trump would look in Cohen’s direction, craning his neck at one point when Cohen was asked whether he lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in 2018.

Cohen walks jurors through his decision to cease being loyal to Trump

In the morning, prosecutors wrapped up their questioning of Cohen, walking him in detail through his decision to stop being loyal to Trump – and to stop lying for Trump – when he pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2018.

Cohen explained that he lied on Trump’s behalf to Congress in 2017 during the Russia investigation, and that he was “misleading” when he told the Federal Election Commission about the $130,000 payment to Daniels in a 2018 letter.

After he sent the letter to the FEC in February 2018, Cohen testified that Trump’s then-attorney Jay Sekulow sent him a message saying, “Client says thanks for what you do.” Cohen confirmed that the client was Trump.

Throughout the testimony explaining the events leading up to his guilty plea, Cohen described how he was given reassurance from Trump’s allies – and Trump’s tweets – that his loyalty was appreciated and that he should not “flip” on Trump.

After the FBI seized Cohen’s phones and records in a search warrant in 2018, “I received a phone call from President Trump,” he testified. “I wanted obviously him to know what was taking place. And he said to me, ‘Don’t worry. I’m the president of the United States. There’s nothing here. Everything’s going to be OK. Stay tough.’”

It was the last time they spoke, Cohen said.

Ultimately, Cohen described how a conversation with his family in August 2018 convinced him to change his tune, plead guilty and tell the truth about Trump, he said.

“I made a decision based again on the conversation I had with my family that I would not lie for President Trump anymore.”

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger used several questions to walk Cohen through his flip-flops of past statements on issues such as his federal tax charges in an attempt to get ahead of the cross-examination sure to keep the focus on those discrepancies. She ended her questioning of Cohen by asking him whether he regretted his past association with Trump.

“I regret doing things for him that I should not have, lying, bullying people in order to effectuate a goal,” Cohen said. “I don’t regret working with the Trump Organization. As I expressed before, some very interesting, great times. But to keep the loyalty and to do the things that he had asked me to do, I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as has my family.”

More Trump allies flock to court

Trump’s Manhattan courtroom seems to be the hottest club in New York for aspiring Republican politicians.

Last week, it was Florida Sen. Rick Scott who joined Trump in court. On Monday, Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio was sitting two rows behind the former president.

Tuesday saw the biggest group of politicians – and at least one potential VP candidate – make the trek up to the 15th floor of the Manhattan courthouse to show their support of Trump.

The list included Trump’s onetime presidential-rival-turned-VP-hopeful North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, along with House Speaker Mike Johnson, Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills, and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. All were seated behind Trump for much of the day except for Johnson, who appeared in the hallway with Trump for his morning news conference but did not go inside the courtroom. (The Louisiana Republican’s office said he went into the overflow room before he held a news conference outside the courthouse.)

Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law and the new co-chair of the Republican National Committee, also attended court Tuesday, along with Trump’s son Eric Trump, who has become a semi-regular presence in the courtroom over the past two weeks.

At one point, when the politicians reentered the courtroom after giving a news conference outside before lunch, the judge stared at them, looking annoyed, as they took their seats while Cohen was in the middle of testifying.

At their news conference outside, the Republican politicians all denounced the proceedings they had come to witness, just as those who have come before them have done.

“I learned a lot from being in there in person,” Ramaswamy said. “It is one of the most depressing places I have been in my life, but it is fitting because the only thing more depressing than the environment of that courtroom is what’s actually happening in there.”

Trump acknowledged Tuesday morning that he appreciated the show of support.

“I do have a lot of surrogates and they are speaking very beautifully,” Trump said before going into court.

This story has been updated with additional details.